Theresa May has told Conservative MPs at a closed meeting that she will step aside as prime minister after she has delivered Brexit.
She pledged to quit before the next stage of negotiations with the EU, but only if Tories who have so far refused to back her deal finally fall into line.
The emotional announcement at the private gathering of Conservative MPs means that if her deal is approved, it would be a new prime minister that would decide how to approach talks on the UK’s future relations with the EU.
It comes as Ms May desperately tries to gather enough votes from rebel Tories and the Northern Irish DUP, to try and pass her deal so that the UK can leave the EU on 22 May.
However, reports already have already begun to emerge that if Ms May’s deal is passed, then a leadership contest would begin on 22 May – the day Britain’s EU membership would end.
The announcement led some in the meeting to pay tribute to the prime minister, such as ex-chief whip Patrick McLoughlin who said “what a wonderful job” she had done.